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Friday, October 31, 2014

Migraine, myself and I

As Sarah Koenig's mother taught us, there are seven topics that you're never supposed to bring up in a conversation. They are:

1. How you've slept
2. Your period
3. Your health
4. Your dreams
5. Money
6. Diet
7. Route talk (how you arrived at the destination, traffic, etc.)

Well, sorry Mrs. Matthiessen, but I'm going to break one of your rules right now. Rule number three: health.

I completely agree that waffling on about your ailments is boring and self-indulgent. But as I think we've all learned by now, boring self-indulgence is just part of the Madgespace tapestry. There's no way around it, particularly considering my hasty vow to blog every day for a year. Take what you can get.

So, a bit of backstory: I've been getting headaches behind my left eye for just over three years. They last all day, getting progressively worse at night. They happen probably once every 10 days. On multiple occasions (including Andy's university's fancy schmancy 700th Anniversary Ball), I've had to miss out on cool stuff because of a bad, BAD headache. Sometimes I'll wake up in the night with one. It's the pits.

I like to think I am the type of person who gets things done. I can take care of business with the best of 'em. But for some reason, I have never walked myself to the doctor's office to share my sob story with a qualified, medical professional. Until today.

The doc is convinced that I have....ugh, it pains me to say it, MIGRAINES. Yep, I am one of those people. One of those annoying weaklings who suffers from headaches that are so bad, they aren't just a headache anymore, but a migraine. Ooh la la. A migraine. Look at me, I have a migraine. Migraine, migraine, migraine.

Being a vegetarian is bad enough for my reputation—add in migraines and my tough chick persona completely crumbles. It's even worse to be a migraine-sufferer over here because they pronounce it ME-GRAINE. As in, 'oh deary me-graine'! Bloody hell.

Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Migraine Therapy, apparently. Also known as 'mini alligator on head therapy'?
Image via Wikimedia Commons


Anyway, the doc gave me some medicine that apparently stops the migraine before it can get worse. It's not a painkiller (although he did give me some of those too - scary!), but a diagnostic tablet that stops the pain from happening, rather than just masking it.

Should I be skeptical that talking to the man, having my blood pressure taken, getting my eyes examined with a flashlight, being diagnosed with migraines and picking up my prescription took less than 15 minutes? Seems sketchy to me. I'm going to ease into my treatments slowly, with one eye on WebMD.

In other news, happy Halloween! I didn't even carve a pumpkin this year. Yeah, I know. It's like I don't even recognise myself anymore.

#TurkeyHat giveaway ends TOMORROW. If you haven't entered yet, what exactly is the matter with you? Do it now, or live to regret it forever.

Love,
Margaret



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Treat-or-Treating: How old is too old?

We could pass for elementary schoolers, right? Wrong. 

I'll see your #ThrowBackThursday and raise you three 15-year-olds about to embark on a night of trick-or-treating. 

Let's start with the costumes. We didn't even try to disguise our age. Smarter, more self-aware teenagers would have at least thrown on some masks, leaving the neighbours to assume they were just abnormally tall for their age. But no, we had our pride to think about. What kind of self-respecting person goes trick-or-treating in a plastic mask from Bartell's? Like we would ever do something so expected—so, as Nina Garcia would say, pedestrian. Yeah right.

I, always the drag king never the bride, was dressed as Harry Potter. I bought the wig and glasses, but the robe (Anna's graduation gown), tie (my Dad's), shirt (Max's?) and badge (old dish rag + sharpie marker + glue) were all from around the house. The first Harry Potter film was coming out a few weeks after Halloween, and I planned to attend the premiere as the 'Boy Who Lived' himself. Going as HP for Halloween just made good, economical sense. Two birds, one stone.

Centre stage is Erika, in a panda costume that my Mom had sewn several years earlier for Francie when she was in 4th grade. As is clear even in this grainy photo, the panda costume was far too small for Erika, the tallest of all my friends. I believe the white belly section was supposed to extend down past the knees like a dress, not end at the waist like a bizarre, wooly wifebeater. And I remember working up a sweat trying to squeeze the hood part over Erika's 15-year-old head.

Then there's Connie, the jar of Carmex. This was another one of Francie's old costumes (amazing costume decisions btw, Francie) and we managed to convince Connie that it was the perfect choice. "You know, because you love Carmex so much!!" "I do? Yeah, ok. Sure!"

After this photo was taken, I'm sure we ran straight to the Arrowhead Point neighbourhood where, as years' of experience had taught us, it's pretty much bowl city. You see, rich people go to rich people parties on Halloween. Time is money, and they don't have time to hand out fun-sized Snickers like commoners. Instead, they leave a bowl full of candy on the front porch with a note that says: "Happy Halloween! Take one or two." Take one or two. Yeah right.

Perhaps I should be embarrassed that I trick-or-treated past the socially-acceptable 6th grade mark. And I suppose I should be ashamed that I grabbed handfuls of candy from every bowl I came across. But I'm not! I look back on those years and all I can think is, "Get it, girl. You do your thang."

Because being a teenager is hard. Suddenly, you're not a kid anymore. One day you're adorable, the next day you're awkward. When it comes to emotions—sadness, fear, excitement, joy, etc.—you're expected to conduct yourself like an adult. But when it comes to freedom and responsibility, you're still completely beholden to your parents.

As a teenager, I was hyperaware of my low status in society. I totally got it. I knew that I wasn't young enough to be cute, I wasn't smart enough to be interesting, I wasn't witty enough to be charming, and I didn't even have enough life experience to be useful. I was just in this horrible age purgatory, somewhere between blissful childhood and respected adulthood.

In those transitional teenage years, you're continually confronted with things that are too young for you and things that are too old for you. You're either secretly watching 'Wishbone', the time-travelling Jack Russell Terrier, on TV in your basement, or you're at a friend's house watching 'Cruel Intentions' and feeling really uncomfortable. Other than the odd junior high dance, teenagers have nothing to claim as their own!

So, when I was faced with the choice of 1) going trick-or-treating with my friends or 2) staying at home and passing out candy with my parents, I made the decision to go with Option 1. Can you blame me?

Cheers,
Margaret

P.S. Have you entered the #TurkeyHat giveaway yet? Do it before it's too late! I ordered the hat on Amazon today, and then I'll ship it out to the lucky winner.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kargaret Kay-Kardashian

I'm seriously considering buying something from the Kardashian Kollection. The Winter 2014 line.

Although the rational part of my brain says,"Don't give them any money! They don't need it!" and "You have neither the body nor the occasion for a black jumpsuit with a mesh and velvet-lined sweetheart neckline", the emotional, Sasha Fierce part of my brain thinks WHY NOT?!

With a bit of bronzer, some fake lashes and a leather bodycon dress, I could rule the world.

Actually, my feeling toward the Kardashians' winter collection is a microcosm of my feelings toward the ladies in general. Intellectually, I'm against them. Spiritually, they are my soul sisters. Fellow goddesses of sultry, Armenian beauty. Audacious in their fashion choices, unapologetic for their fame.

Do the stuffed leopards and white ukeleles come with the dress, or do you have to buy those separately?

Siiiigh. I've had a busy day of work, and staring at this screen is making my eyes hurt. Although I could write a dissertation on my complex feelings about the Kardashians, it's probably best if I refrain and direct you to my #TurkeyHat giveaway instead.

If you haven't entered for a chance to win the fantastic piece Thanksgiving garb, do it now! You only have until Saturday morning (Edinburgh time). Don't let his opportunity pass you by!

There will be a better blog tomorrowI promise!

Love,
Margaret

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Celebrating 110,000 views - enter to WIN a turkey hat!

This post will, hopefully, take me past the 110,000 views mark. To honour the occasion, I've decided to do my first ever giveaway!

The prize? A turkey hat, similar to the one seen here on a young, 23-year-old Andy.


Thanksgiving is coming up, and you're probably in the market for a hat to wear to the big meal. What could be more fitting than a cap shaped like a roast turkey? It will be a huge hit, trust me.

For a chance to win, all you have to do is log into Rafflecopter using the widget below, and then send out a tweet and/or answer my one-question poll. If you do both, you double your chance of winning.

The competition starts now, and it ends Saturday morning at 9am Edinburgh time. If you win, I'll send you the hat just in time for Thanksgiving.

If you're British and do not honour the annual feast, or if you're Canadian and have already celebrated your fake Thanksgiving, then you can always wear the prize on Christmas instead.

Note: it's kind of confusing to enter by tweeting, but basically you just click the small "tweet" button in the widget, and then the tweet is already written for you, you just have to send it. THEN, you have to post the URL of that tweet into the widget to verify that you've done it. Sigh...


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck, and don't F it up!

Love,
Margaret

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thanks for nothing, Halle Berry

Halle Berry was recently interviewed by Yahoo style (what, you don't subscribe to Yahoo style!? Unfriending you right now) and dropped a major advice bomb on the women of planet earth.

From the article:

She also recalled a crucial life lesson her mom taught her: always wear a good bra, or gravity will show no mercy. “She said if I don’t want my boobs to hit my knees by the time I’m 30, always wear a bra, even to bed,” Berry says.

SHITE.

I've never been a fan.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

I'll admit it, as soon as I get home from work, the bra comes off and the baggy sweatshirt goes on. And I don't even go to work! I work from home! SHITE! That means...let me do some quick math...I probably only wear a bra about 25% of the time.

When I nip across the street (pun intended) to the corner shop to get a Snickers, I often just throw on a jacket and do the arms-crossed manoeuvre I perfected back in eighth grade.

SHITE. SHITE. SHITE.

This ain't good.

Oh well. All I can do at this stage is promise to get my bra-wearing game back on track. Oh, and remind you that Halle Berry did a hit and run once. Let's not forget that.



In other news, I've had a blog topic request from the aforementioned Julie Fredrickson (famous for being fun and low maintenance). Read it for yourself:


Great suggestion, Julie! And let me just say that I admire your devil-may-care approach to office supplies.

After some careful consideration, I realised that I tend to avoid excitement at all costs. When I walk to the supermarket, I cross the road at the exact same point every time—no deviations. I NEVER answer calls from unknown numbers. I'm even too afraid to walk underneath trees in case 1) a branch falls off or 2) a perching bird poops on me.

That said, I have managed to think of a few ways I spice up my life (as Geri, Victoria, Emma and the Mels would say). Here they are:

  • Sleeping on an air mattress in the living room — On the weekends, Andy and I sometimes set up a "den" in the living room, comprised of the air mattress and all the pillows and blankets in the flat. Even though our actual bedroom is three feet down the hall, it's a real treat to be able to watch TV lying down and reach across to grab dinner out of the oven without even needing to stand up (our living room is also our kitchen...small flat).
  • In a restaurant, ordering at the VERY last second — This bizarre habit is more likely a result of my indecisiveness, but it definitely keeps me on my toes!
  • Farting all the time in public — If you're new to this blog/my life, then you might not know that I was extremely constipated for a good part of 2008 (culminating in a three-month pooping hiatus). Something I learned during that tough time was, if you need to pass gas, DO IT. Holding it in only leads to trouble. I also learned to perfect the art of the slow, quiet release. Works for me about 80% of the time—the other 20% is why I've included this on the list. 
That's all for now! Happy almost Halloween!

LYMI, 
Margaret


Sunday, October 26, 2014

5 things you don't have to feel guilty about

Of all the human emotions, guilt is probably the worst. Sure, it can be an appropriate response to a genuine wrongdoing, allowing us to recognise our errors and feel remorseful. But for the most part, guilt is misguided, damaging and ultimately unproductive. We spend far too much time feeling guilty when we shouldn't.

Not too long ago, I decided to make a concerted effort to cut guilt out of my life completely. And I'm not going to feel bad about it!

If you find guilt creeping into your psyche far too often, here are just five (of many) scenarios that you no longer need to beat yourself up over:

1. Getting an expensive haircut

"You wear your hair every day."

Those are my aunt Barbara's famous words of wisdom. How right she is! If you feel bad about getting a somewhat high-end haircut, ask yourself if you would spend the same money on a pair of jeans or some new running shoes. Would you? Of course you would, and you only wear those items a couple times a week.

2. Eating carbs

If you're American, this one might seem controversial. If you're not, this one might seem obvious. Either way, it's important to recognise that carbs are OK. They're absolutely fine.

In fact, based solely on my personal experience (and thus, 100% scientific fact) carbohydrates are key to feeling full and satisfied. Without them, you're more likely to get hungry between meals and binge on dry dry drier than dry unsalted almonds.

3. Not sending Christmas cards / Birthday cards

If you find the time and have the motivation, then send away! If it's December 26th and you've completely dropped the ball, rest assured that nobody cares. Cards are fun to get, but most people won't notice if they don't get one.

Same goes for birthdays. If it's your friend's birthday and you haven't sent them anything, just give them a call.

4. Having a slow work day

I've talked about this before. Some days are more productive than others—that's just the cold, hard truth. If you've been staring at that blank Word document for an hour, take a break and walk to your nearest artisan coffee shop. There's no point in trying to force inspiration that isn't there. You'll be better tomorrow.

5. Being a privileged, middle class Westerner

It's easy to look at the lives of less fortunate people across the world and feel guilty about the privilege you were born into. But feeling guilty doesn't change anything. It's also irrational to blame yourself for circumstances you have no control over. Instead of feeling guilty, look for ways you can improve the lives of people around you and try your best to enjoy the life you have (e.g. eating carbs and not whining about feeling guilty).

A privileged British man about to dig into some creamy mashed potatoes. 

Yuck! I hate this post. It feels preachy and very far from the Madgespace brand. Oh well, it's not like I'm going to write another one tonight! HAHAHAHA. Yeah right! I've got TV to watch, fishcakes to eat and dry skin all over my body to scratch.

See ya,
Margaret

P.S. Let's bring back 'yeah right'. It's so sarcastic and sassy, and I feel like it's not as popular as it was in the 90s.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just in case...

I'm scheduling this post just in case I am having too much fun to write anything tonight. My friends and I are meeting for 'Diva Night', our bi-monthly evening of reality TV watching, snacking and gossiping. On tonight's agenda: Project Runway finale and the latest America's Next Top Model.

Hopefully I will make it back in time to write something more substantial. But just in case, here's something to ponder:

Remember that MTV show 'Room Raiders'? It's that show where a guy or gal searches through the bedrooms of three potential suitors and chooses one of them to take on a date based solely on their cleanliness/fashion sense/choice of bedspread. Yeah, that show wasn't very good. It wasn't at the time, and looking back now, I stand by that assessment. Mainly because it was staged and because you didn't get to see the actual dates.

OK, bye!

Margaret

Friday, October 24, 2014

This is the life...

Andy and I are at the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh. We swam in the pool, did deep breathing exercises in the steam room, burnt the bottoms of our feet in the sauna and ate some strawberries that were dressed up in melted chocolate "tuxedos". This is the life.

MAN, spas are just so wonderful. Why can't we be more like Scandinavia or Iceland, where saunas and steam rooms and plunge pools are the norm? Let's make it happen, America/Britain. Let's move spa treatments away from luxury and closer to necessity.

Think about it. A more spa-conscious culture would:

1) reduce road rage

2) eliminate scurvy (because of all those limes in the water pitcher)

3) give the terrycloth industry a much-needed boost

And that's just the beginning!

OK. Short post. Too relaxed to type. The end.





Much love to all my homies,

Margaret

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From the Archives, Edition 3

Yep, it's another 'From the Archives' post! Translation: I'm feeling lazy. But oh well. You're not picky.

 Enjoy this except from my old diary (which has about four entries total...again with the laziness):



Saturday 9th September 2008

Just got done @ the bagel shop, then went to the library to check my email & facebook (nothing new, surprise surprise), then to the gym (gotta lose 15lbs to get back to my high school weight...I feel so middle aged referring to it was that, harhar).

School is (knock on wood) going to be decently easy this semester. The real struggle is going to be saving money. It doesn't seem like it should be too difficult, but I keep finding different things that I just have to have. I want to do yoga 2 nights a week ($90) and get my middle ear cartilage pierced ($35) and get Marc Jacobs "Daisy" perfume. The piercing & perfume can wait - but I think I'll splurge for the yoga. 

Oh - btw, the reason I need to save money is so I can go live in Edinburgh next year. I want to do this Master's program about religion & journalism ethics. It looks really interesting - but it'll cost me. 

Tori and the Freds (Jamie & Julie Fredrickson) are visiting us in Spokane this weekend. They should be here around dinner time. Should be a fun time because all 3 of them are fun and low maintenance. 

I thought Cyprus would have changed me into a much more social person (all we did there was socialize — clubs, parties, sittin' around the school cafeteria), but I'm afraid I left my socializing desire on the island. The few times I've tried "going out" this semester I just wasn't feeling it. Partly, I don't really want to drink...also...I'm usually really tired from working early and nothing will compare to Cyprus, Ireland & Edinburgh.

My current interests/things in my life:

Books
Just read: Devil in the White City
Reading: Youth in Revolt
Will read next: The River Why

Foods
Oatmeal, Dannon strawberry lite 'n fit yogurt, cashew carrot ginger soup, wholewheat cinnamon raisin bagels, bananas

Clothes
Thin t-shirts found in sleepwear section of target, H&M zip-ups w/ droopy turtlenecks, "Internationals United" t-shirt I took from my friend Haitham in Cyprus, black Lucy yoga pants & zip-up

Make up
Bare Minerals foundation, Benefit eyeshadow & mascara, Dr.Pepper flavor chapstick

TV Shows
Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Gossip Girl, Weeds

Activities
Gym, library (blogging, surfin' the net), reading, TV, planning my future, hanging out in CM with Martha

Anyhoo, as soon as something interesting happens in my life this diary should get better. Frankly, it's pretty dern dull at the moment. I need a crush BAD. That's what diaries are for. We'll see...doubtful.

- M

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Renée-sance

Let's face it: faces matter.

Recognising and interpreting human faces is a vital part of our cognitive and social development. On the day we're born, we can pick out faces in a blurry sea of bright lights and foreign objects. By the time we're a month old, we can mimic the facial expressions of our parents.

Faces are so hard-wired into our brains that we often see them when they aren't there — in the clouds, on the exterior of houses, or on a slightly burnt grilled cheese. There's even an official name for the inability to recognise faces. It's called prosopagnosia or 'face blindness'. I'm sure you listened to the Radio Lab about it. 

Anyway, all of this is to say that there's a reason why Renée Zellweger's new, man-made face is FREAKING US ALL THE F OUT. We don't recognise her anymore! That unique, Bridget Jones face is gone FOREVER. There is no getting it back.

The old Zellweger.
Image by Siebbi via Wikimedia Commons

I've had a day to process it. I've read through the articles about whether "we" created the problem, whether it's even a problem at all, and if even the act of commenting on it makes us misogynistic arseholes. Maybe all of those conversations are worth having (except the last one, which I don't think holds up in this case). But I am not going to apologise for my initial reaction, which was a combination of:
  • Sadness (10%)
  • Horror (10%)
  • Puzzlement (10%)
  • Unease (70%)
Here's why:
  • Sadness — The idea that someone would dislike their face so much that they would rather be completely unrecognisable makes me sad. As someone who is obsessed with her own face and would stare at the mirror for hours as a child (making funny faces and practicing fake crying), I find the situation particularly troubling. When you're bored and lonely, your face is a loyal friend! The PhotoBooth tool on my computer can attest to that. 
  • Horror  — Plastic surgery is spooky. My brother Max actually called it years ago. I remember him saying, before the OC-housewife-look really took off, "Plastic surgery is terrifying. It really, really freaks me out." He was right then, and he's been proven even more right with Renée's big reveal.
  • Puzzlement — Is that really her? What did she get done? Are the eyes different? The nose? The chin? What exactly is going on?
  • Unease — My overriding emotion as I stared at the photos was unease. Maybe her artificial face gave me a bit of an 'uncanny valley' vibe, like I talked about yesterday. But I think I was mainly shaken by the fact that I wouldn't have known it was her if the headlines didn't tell me. That's unsettling. 
I'm still unsure of how I feel about all this, so I decided to ask Andy to chat it over with me in a short video blog. 

Fair weather fans, this is your exit. Sashay away. Go back to Facebook and scroll through a bottomless assortment of Upworthy links and engagement photos. True Madgespace fans, you stay. This is your chance to delve even deeper into the mind of a misunderstood genius.



Auf Wiedersehen,

Margaret

P.S. Andy says that it was actually Francis Bacon who said that quote about beauty (we talk about it in the video). He regrets the error.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Peas de résistance

Wow.

I just met Andy for a coffee before his 7-10:30pm lesson. He's been teaching nonstop since 9 o'clock this morning, and I've been shut in at home trying to cross things off my lengthy 'To Do' list (see yesterday's post for more info).

His fried brain + my lack of human interaction = weird, surreal experience

I talked a lot about how crazy it is that postal stamps are still a thing, and how I am surprised that counterfeit stamps aren't more common. He agreed and stared into the distance like a post-5150 Britney Spears.

It's hard to explain why the whole thing was so strange. Basically, it felt like we were both state-of-the-art Japanese robots, acting and speaking like humans but completely dead behind the eyes.

Have you seen that CGI Audrey Hepburn advert for Galaxy chocolate? Our coffee meeting had that same, 'uncanny valley' vibe.




OK, now for the pea chat

This post was originally going to be a persuasive piece on the merits of peas and my desire to reintroduce them to modern, American cuisine (similar to my defence of celery from yonks ago). 

Although they're more common in British cuisine ('mushy peas' is a traditional dish here...come on Brits, you're not doing your poor culinary reputation any favours with that one), I feel like our generation doesn't have the same relationship with peas as our parents' and grandparents' generations. They're just not as popular as they used to be, and that's a shame. Peas are actually really tasty. 

But that was what this post was going to be about. The more I thought about peas, the more I realised that I actually have a few different pea anecdotes worth sharing. 

Anecdote 1: The Family Green Pea
As of getting married a few years ago, my sister Anna's last name is now Gorohoff. According to her and my brother-in-law, Gorohoff means 'green pea' in Russian. Isn't that fun?

Full disclosure, Google translate tells me 'green pea' in Russian is this: зеленый горошек. Needless to say, I wasn't able to fact check the validity of their claim. 

Anecdote 2: "I eat my peas with honey"
When we were growing up, eating peas with honey was an important tradition in our household. It was a coming-of-age milestone that helped form us Kay kids into the upstanding citizens we are today. 

Here's how it went down. Around the age of six, my Mom would teach us to recite a poem, squirt some honey onto the flat side of a knife, balance some peas on top, and then slurp up the peas in a single lick. It was precarious to say the least. This is the poem:

I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife

The things I do for this blog...

Anecdote 3: Pass the peas, please
For a while, one of my Mom's favourite pranks was to serve peas and carrots for dinner that were—wait for it—not actually peas and carrots at all, but CANDY. Delicious pea-and-carrot-shaped candy! She had found the candy veggies at a novelty sweet shop in Seattle and knew instantly that it would be comedy gold. 

As the youngest child, not yet in school and thus her default partner in crime, I helped ol' Nadinski arrange the candy peas and carrots realistically on each plate next to some real mashed potatoes and fish sticks. I rang the cowbell (yes, we used a cowbell to signal dinnertime), put on my best poker face and waited anxiously for my siblings to dig in. 

OH the look on their faces when they ate their first bite of candy peas! If you had to narrow the abstract concept of 'humour' down to a single image, that would be it. You see, they thought they were going to be tasting real peas. They expected to eat the actual vegetable. But instead, they tasted a wonderful sugary treat! HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA

AHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA

BAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAH OHAHAHA

HOOOHEE HAHAHA

HAHAHA

HaHA

Aha

Ha

haha

ha

Love,
Margaret

P.S. Yes, I know. Renée Zellweger. We're all horrified. I need a day to process it. Expect full coverage in tomorrow's post.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little things that keep me sane

Life is strange, and the fact that we get through most days without an existential crisis is actually pretty impressive. How do we do it? We build our days around the little things that make us happy.

Here are some little things that I try to work into my daily routine. Feel free to add them to your own routines — I am no hog.

  • Candles — I can't sing their praises enough. They're these small cylinders made of wax. A tiny piece of rope runs through the middle of them and pokes out the top. You light the rope and it burns slowly, creating a peaceful ambiance for hours. If you've never owned a candle before, I recommend you go buy one today!

  • Coffee — Much like Mr. G, I need a cup 'o joe before I start the day. But I also like to drink coffee when I don't need it. I love the taste, the warmth, the smell and the activity aspect of drinking high quality coffee (I love an activity). 

  • Downward Dog — Yoga is the best form of exercise. Why? Because afterward you feel like you've run a 10k AND had an hour's massage. It's fantastic. Unfortunately, I am too lazy and cheap to attend regular yoga classes. Instead, I just do 'Down Dog' for a while in my flat. It seems to do the job.

  • Podcasts — Andy makes fun of me because I take my iPod with me when I take out the garbage. It's only a 2-minute journey to the dumpster, but listening to a podcast makes it better! Recently, I've been enjoying the 'This American Life' spinoff, 'Serial' (Note: if you're interested in Serial, make sure to start with the first episode). 

  • Reality TV — If television is "chewing gum for the eyes", then reality television is...Starbucks' Tazo® Zen™ tea for the brain? Yes, I think that analogy works. Watching 'Geordie Shore', 'America's Next Top Model' and 'Real Housewives' is an ideal way to quiet the mind. 

  • 'To Do' lists — Confession time: I add things that I've already done to my 'To Do' lists just so I can cross them off and feel great about myself. Today I added 'Get haircut' to the list AFTER I returned from the salon and then immediately crossed it off.


I feel like I've written this exact blog post before. Am I running out of material already? This ain't good. Maybe I will start keeping a journal of my daily experiences/encounters/thoughts, like David Sedaris does. 

Something I've come to terms with at the ripe age of 28 is the fact that motivation levels always ebb and flow. Some days you're TCB-ing like Richard Branson, and other days you're writing long 'To Do' lists comprised only of tasks you've already completed. 

Feeling guilty about unproductive days just isn't productive. Instead, enjoy those days and know that your next burst of motivation is just around the corner. Remind yourself that, if you actually had a pressing deadline, you would get the work done. 

As B*Witched would say, c'est la vie!

Cheers,
Margaret

Sunday, October 19, 2014

For Your Information, Edition 1

Here we go.

'For Your Information' is another recurring blog post theme you can expect to see here on Madgespace from time to time. Each FYI blog post will feature a list of facts that you may find useful.


Image via Wikimedia Commons

For your information, Sunday 19th October 2014

Science

Around the world

Sports
  • The Seahawks traded Percy Harvin because apparently he almost broke Golden Tate's neck last year. It's a big deal because he's a really good football player.

Entertainment
  • A new 'Top Chef' (Boston) has started. There's been one episode so far. 
  • A new 'Project Runway All Stars' season starts on the 30th of this month.
  • The Michael Keaton / Zach Galifianakis / Edward Norton / Emma Stone / Naomi Watts dramedy film 'Birdman' opened in cinemas on Friday. It currently has a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is already garnering Oscar buzz. Watch the trailer.
  • The artist formerly known as P!nk is now part of a folk/country duo called 'You+Me'. They've released their first album and recently performed on Ellen.

Celebs
  • Beyonce got herself some terrible short bangs (fringe). 

Goodbye, 
Margaret


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Andy Williamson!

Andy Williamson—rabble-rouser, cricketer, English tutor, male model, chatty kathy, maverick and friend to everyone—turns 28 today!

If you're lucky enough to know the guy personally, then you understand what a unique specimen he is. Never has there been anyone so irresistibly likeable, yet so aggressively irritating. He'll make you a cup of tea and then poke you in the bottom with a spatula when you bend over to pick it up. That's our Andy. Nothing is sacred. Every moment is an opportunity for mischief. And he is nothing if not consistent. Unwavering. Relentless in his waggishness.

But much like Sears, Andy has a softer side.

He warms my PJs on the radiator as a nice treat for when I get home. He hand-writes letters to his students with feedback on their progress. He ends every phone conversation—whether it's with his grandma or a guy on his cricket team—with "I love you."

Right now, I can hear him singing Taylor Swift in the shower ("Rammy's gonna ram ram ram ram ram...").

Indeed, when you get past the bum-poking, shoulder-biting, ill-timed puns and prank phone calls, Andy has a heart of gold. He's thoughtful, intelligent and as dependable as a Swiss watch.

Happy Birthday, Ram!

Andy through the years


Young Andy, age 3?
High school Andy with pals.
Early uni years Andy.
Image by Samantha Crago via Facebook

Andy the university graduate.
Image by Chris Devine via Facebook

Andy in his post-university "figuring life out" stage.
Image by Chris Williamson via Facebook

Professional, hunky Andy with a new and improved wardrobe.

Layered Andy on the annual January 2nd Woodcutters cricket match.


HB AW,

Margaret

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lemon bars for sale!

I've just returned from Andy's birthday eve dinner. What a rip-roaring celebration it was! In addition to homemade 'za, Char and I baked some lemon bars for the occasion. They were delicious, if not sickeningly sweet. 

As I sunk my teeth into a tangy yellow gooey rectangle of citrus bliss, I was brought back to one of my first ever business ventures. Indeed, long before I was a professional amateur blogger, I was a bone-fide lemon bar peddler. 

The lemon bars C and I made this evening. 

The business of lemon bars

My sistahs and I were in need of some quick, off-the-books cash to fuel our Rocky's habit.

Rocky's Corner Food Store is, as the name implies, a store located on a street corner in our neighbourhood. However, as the name misleads, it doesn't sell "food" so much as candy, knock-off slurpies and a vast assortment of cigarette lighters.

Walking to Rocky's is the "it" thing to do if you live in south Kenmore. It's close enough that parents can trust their kids to walk there unaccompanied, but far enough for the kids to feel free, like proper humans in society.

Rocky's — so good even the mailman shops there!


Char and Francie (11) and I (8) put our heads together. We had graduated from lemonade stands by that point. That was kid's stuff—incredible profit margins, but no respect within the industry. A door-to-door lemon bar business, however? That had potential. A few big orders and we would be in king-size candy bar territory. Heck, with a couple wads of Washingtons in our pockets, nothing in the candy aisle would be off limits!

So, we got to work. We decided to collect the money off our neighbours up front to facilitate cash flow and mitigate risk. Armed with a clipboard and a brilliant sales pitch ("Lemon bars are delicious. Can you afford not to taste one?") we hit up each house on 154th Street one by one.

The response was fantastic. Before we knew it, our manila envelope was full of moolah. Except for one minor hiccup—a lady in a blue house telling us that a half dozen bars for $4 was overpriced—the afternoon couldn't have gone better.

Now there was only one thing left to do: bake the most delicious lemon bars Kenmore had ever seen!

We burnt them.

They weren't completely charred, but they were pretty dang hard and brown. The thing is though, we had already collected the money. We'd gotten what we wanted from the deal. It was right there, crumpled up in a big envelope on the kitchen table. If we hurried, we could still make it to Rocky's before dinner.

So, we did what any soon-to-liquidate business would do. We doused the crispy bars in a half-inch of powdered sugar, wrapped them in two sheets of thick foil and set them on each customer's doorstep without as much as a tap on their door.

We felt guilty for a bit, but then let the lemon bar business fade quickly into the past. Except we did still badmouth the blue house lady every time we walked past. What a bitch.


LYMI,
Margaret

Thursday, October 16, 2014

No microwave? No problem.

Take a long hard look at this kitchen.

Do excuse the mess, Love.


Notice anything odd?

Yes, it's a tiny kitchen. And yes, that is my famous water bottle making an appearance (good spot). But I'm not talking about what's in my kitchen; I'm talking about what's not in it.

A microwave! There's no microwave!

The flat just didn't come with one.

Most flats in the UK come fully furnished. As long as you ignore the fact that you're sleeping on the same mattress as thousands of previous tenants, it's actually a great system. There's no need to stock up on crappy Ikea furniture, because the flat already has plenty. Dishes, cutlery, pots, pans—they're all included too. For people like me who enjoy being able to fit all their earthly possessions into a duffle bag, furnished flats are fantastic.

What point was I making again? Oh yes, the microwave. I think it's because the flat is fully furnished (minus the microwave) that we never bothered buying one. If we'd needed to stock the whole place ourselves, we probably would have added a microwave to our shopping list. But after a few weeks without one, I suppose we didn't miss it.

Perks of not owning a microwave


✓   You have to warm up leftover pizza under the broiler. It takes longer, but tastes much, much better. No more rubber crust.

✓   I used to be OBSESSED with the temperature of my hot beverages. If my tea or coffee wasn't piping hot, I would just give it a spin in the microwave for a few seconds. Thank you, Percy Spencer!

Sadly, it wasn't unusual for me to microwave a single cup of tea up to five separate times. That's just ridiculous, not to mention borderline OCD. Now, without easy access to electromagnetic rays, I just live with the fact that hot beverages gradually cool down as you drink them. I'm free again!

✓   There's more (counter) space for you to let your culinary creativity shine!

✓   Even small microwaves are an eyesore. And no matter how universally accepted they are in this day and age, microwaves still announce to the world that sometimes, you're lazy.


In other news, I slept on my three thoughts from yesterday and did come up with some more insight into the downfall of 'New Girl'.

Basically, I'm just sick of the guys and Jess being goofy and then Cece being the straight man. The straight man to goofball ratio is off. There should just be less goofiness in general. And also, we get it; men with accents are attractive. It's been done before. On this exact show. They're out of ideas and it's only the third season. Time to call it a wrap!

Margaret out

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sleep on it

I should start blogging in the mornings.

Truthfully, I'm a morning person. As much as I've tried to deny it ('night owls' are obviously cooler), I am my "best self" (copyright Oprah) in the ante meridiem. 

Also, I remember one of my professors in college talking about how our brains subconsciously work things out while we sleep. That's where the phrase 'sleep on it' comes from. It's not just a saying—it's part of our actual biology! You can spend hours trying to figure something out and get absolutely nowhere, but after a good night's sleep, you'll wake up with the answer. Ta da!

Anyhoo, I've had a few different thoughts worth blogging about this evening. The problem is that none seem to constitute a full post. Maybe if I jot them down here, then I can return to one (or more) in a more comprehensive post down the road. Here goes it:
  • As Mindy Project keeps getting better, New Girl keeps nosediving into cringe-ville. I'm embarrassed I ever liked it that much. It used to be funny, didn't it? Of course I still watch it, but out of desperation. 
  • The importance of perspective—e.g. not letting things like an unpacked piece of luggage sitting in the hallway for weeks bother you.
  • Jessica Biel—What's going on with her these days? Like, what's she up to? I'm honestly just wondering. Does she still do TV/films, or is she just Justin's wife now?
Yeah, as you can tell there isn't much there. Those three things are pretty much it. I'm going to hit the hay, and perhaps my subconscious will elaborate on them as I sleep. For all we know, I could wake up in the morning with some fascinating insight into one of the world's blander celebs, Jessica Biel. 

Come on brain, work your magic!

I just Googled her. She's actually Jessica Timberlake now. I didn't know that. You learn something every day.
Image by Maggie Jumps via Wikimedia Commons


Goodnight, 
Margaret

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From the Archives: Edition 2

Welcome to the second edition of 'From the Archives'. This time I'm featuring some of my very first emails ever sent (at least from my old Yahoo account, that is). 

These are two emails I sent my brother (and Madgespace guest blogger) Max back when I was but a wee 15 years of age. 




OK, so they aren't that interesting. But they've given me the night off from blogging, which is a real treat. Instead, I've used my creativity to come up with a delicious snack using only the ingredients we have in the house. The result? Bits of tortilla toasted under the broiler, sprinkled with powdered parmesan cheese and dabbed with Tabasco sauce. Tastier than it sounds!

Love,
Margaret

Monday, October 13, 2014

Two stories about Starburst

Oh look, another blog post centred around food.

You must be on to me by now, so I'll admit it: food consumes 80% of my thoughts.

The rest are divided as follows:

  • 10% - Television shows
  • 5% - Flight MH370 (yes, I still haven't moved on)
  • 5% - Amanda Bynes' mental health


FaveReds


Starburst has a new offering: FaveReds®. Well, it might not be that new, but it wasn't around when I was a child.

As the name implies, FaveReds® contains all different flavours of red. Red is clearly the best flavour in any assorted candy selection, so of course people are going to love the option to bypass yellow/orange in favour of reds and only reds.

I think FaveReds® is a fantastic idea, and a smart business move. But I have to be honest, I CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA YEARS AGO. Maybe this means that my amazing ideas just take a long time to come to fruition, and that McDonald's will eventually start serving breakfast all day.

Why wait until Halloween to consume several fun-sized packs of Starburst when you could eat a full-size pack NOW? 

'Guess the Mystery Flavour' competition


When she was 13 my sister Francie won a Starburst 'Guess the Mystery Flavour' competition. She called the number on the back of the pack and correctly selected the mystery flavour from a few different options read by an automated operator. Her name was added to a pool along with those of other mystery flavour whiz kids. It would later be drawn at random as the prize winner. 

I still remember when the package arrived. It came in a big, brown box the size of a microwave. Tearing it open and swatting away the packaging peanuts, Francie revealed the fruits of her success. The box contained:
  • Several packages of Starburst
  • Starburst beach towel
  • Starburst sunscreen
  • Starburst portable radio player (shaped exactly like a pack of Starburst, but an actual radio that you could put headphones in and everything!)
But for Francie, a selection of Starburst-themed goodies wasn't enough. She had dreams. Big dreams. And like any astute entrepreneur, she understood that success breeds success. Remaining dynamic and never resting on your laurels—that's what separates the rich from the super rich. This prize draw was only the beginning. 

So, she called up the Northshore Citizen to tip them off about her winnings. Well, that's not quite true. She convinced her twin sister Char to call the newspaper for her. 

Pretending to be Francie, Char pitched the story of "her" mystery flavour windfall to a reporter. It would be a fantastic human-interest tale to lighten up the dreary pages of the local broadsheets. The reporter jotted down some info and, much to all of our delight, arranged for a photographer to take a photo of Francie with her Starburst loot. 

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has ever called Kenmore home, Francie's big win made the front page. 

I've been trying to track down the article since the Internet was invented—to no avail. Like so many small local papers, the Northshore Citizen is now kaput. But from what I remember, the headline was something like 'Local teen scores big with Starburst win'. The photo was a close-up of Francie, hair white from Sun-In and arms full of Starburst flare, flaunting her new riches for the world to see. 


Love ya,
Margaret

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Egg McMuffin

It's about time we talk about Egg McMuffins. I have a few things to get off my chest.

Yum. Just plain YUM.
Image by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

Portion size


I bought five Egg McMuffins today. Three for Andy, two for myself.

When I told him how many I ordered, Andy laughed. I guess he thought five was a lot? Anyway, 30 minutes down the road, he was thanking me. 

Two or three is the correct portion size for Egg McMuffins. They are delicious, but small. Three large bites is all it takes to get the entire thing down your gob. Next time you're at McDonald's don't be ashamed to order yourself multiple McMuffins. 

Time limit


Most McDonald's (McDonalds'? McDonaldses? McDonald'ses?) across the globe stop serving breakfast at 10:30am. Newsflash: it's 2014! Why are we still putting up with this? 

Everybody knows that Egg McMuffins are a weekend food, and that people enjoy sleeping in on the weekends. At the very least, they could serve breakfast all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Plastic cheese


The use of American cheese on the Egg McMuffin is what makes it. A lot of people don't understand this. The plastic flavour is part of the experience. Using a posh mature cheddar would make it taste too rich and unbalanced. 

It's the same thing with grilled cheeses (or 'cheese toasties' if you're British). Yes, you can make delicious fancy ones if you want to—smoked gouda, fig and onion chutney on sourdough. But if you just want a classic white bread + butter + slice o' cheese, then American cheese it is. That's what gives it that no-frills diner flavour.


Peace, 
Margaret

P.S. I've never been annoyed to tears before, but there's a first time for everything. A boy band named 'The Vamps' has done a cover of that song 'Cecelia' and it's doing my head in. Came on the radio four times on our trip back from England. 

It's SO SO bad that I can't even link to it, but you can find it on YouTube if you really want to subject yourself to some torture. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

England!

Andy and I are in England. We're about to go out for a curry, and then after that....who knows! I fear that, like Cinderella, I may not return in time for my midnight blogging deadline. So, my only choice is to blog now. And I only have five minutes to think of something to say. What pressure!

How about this:

Don't roller skate in a buffalo herd (No good. It's not a likely risk, therefore it's not very useful advice.)

The only thing to fear is fear itself (I'm told that's been done before.)

When life give you lemons, make lemonade (The correct answer is make lemon bars.)

Sing a pop song every day.

There! That's a good one. Any era works—Beatles, Michael Jackson, Nikki Minaj—whatever gets those fingers snappin'. Just open up those lungs and sing, sing, SING!!!!!!!


Happy Saturday from England!

Love,
Margaret


Friday, October 10, 2014

Most embarrassing moment

Ah, teenagers. Nobody knows what to do with them. Parents, teachers, the government, the teenagers themselves—everyone just smothers the situation in deodorant and hopes things work out for the best.

Looking back on my teenage years, there's so much I wish I knew then that I know now (Hmm, someone should write a song about that. I'm thinkin' Rod Stewart?).

Prime example: my most embarrassing moment. It's cringe-worthy to this day.

The year: 2000
The city: Kenmore, Washington, USA

The place: Kenmore Jr. High

The story actually starts on 62nd Ave, in the Arrowhead neighbourhood of southwest Kenmore. I was in my childhood home, in my childhood bed, with visions of Chad Michael Murray dancing in my head. Then what in my snoozing state did I hear? A Fred Meyers alarm clock blasting in my ear. 

SHIZE. Slept in. The bus would be at the corner in one minute.  No time to shower. No time to eat. It was a straightforward 'grab the backpack and run' job. 

Lucky for me, baggy grey sweatpants  + oversized navy blue hoodie + messy bun was the style at KJH those days. No need to even change out of the PJs. I could literally jump out of bed and run out the door. 

I made it to street corner just as the big yellow school bus was about to close its doors. Phew!

Catching my breath, I found a seat near the back and sank into the brown vinyl cushions, quite proud of my near miss. That had to be a record. I'd been asleep just ONE MINUTE before! Wait 'til the gang hears about this. Gosh darn it, Margaret, you've pulled off a real humdinger. 

But my relief was short lived. Something didn't feel right. I felt too free, too relaxed—too uninhibited. Suddenly, I was hyperaware of my nipples. OH CRAP. No bra. 

My room during junior high and high school. Key components:
Giant fruit painted on the wall
Star Wars Episode 1 poster
Harry Potter books stacked up near the mirror
Blue Bear (wearing a bra?) and friends on the couch
Large Ouija board 'planchette' made of wood
Cut-out drawings from the 'Grossology' book series above the closet doors 

My lack of proper boob apparel certainly took the sheen off my sleeping-in success. But as far as junior high emergencies go, it wasn't that bad. All I would have to do is walk around with my arms folded the whole day. It was only six hours. I could handle that. Little did I know, the situation was about to get much, much worse. 

It was second period—Mr. Guy's art class. I'd already made it an hour, arms folded tightly and no one the wiser. Then the vice principal's voice came over the intercom:

"This is a reminder for all 8th graders to please start heading to the gym for the scoliosis screening."

SCOLIOSIS SCREENING. SCOLIOSIS SCREENING. SCOLIOSIS SCREENING.

The words echoed in my ears. I had completely forgotten that today was the day I would be extracted from my studies and tested for a RARE SPINE DEFORMATION. I had completely forgotten that today was the day I would be required to: 1) remove my shirt, 2) stand in front of a parent volunteer and 3) bend forward slowly, creating a 90 degree angle with my body. 

We'd been reminded about it for weeks. "Girls should make sure to wear a bra or swimsuit top on the day of the screening" it said on the paper handout. At the time I thought that was hilarious. Swimsuit top? We're 14 years old! Who isn't wearing a bra by now? Hahahaha. 

Now who was laughing.

I started following my classmates toward the gym. Embarrassed. Terrified. Powerless. Not at any point did it occur to me that I could just skip the screening, go hang out in the bathroom for 20 minutes, feign illness or, better yet, JUST WALK HOME. 

Instead, I continued to shuffle slowly toward my fate. At the last-minute, I told my friend about my predicament. Maybe she'd have an idea of what I should do. 

"Oh my god, that sucks." she said. "That totally sucks."

That was it, and I was next in line. There was nothing I could do now.

So I walked behind the curtain, took my sweatshirt off and exposed my braless body without a word of explanation. The examiner was the mother of a boy in my grade. As I bent forward slowlymy spine the picture of healthI imagined her and her son at the dinner table, laughing hysterically as she told him all about my bare bosoms.

But at least I had learned a valuable lesson. 

From that day forward, until the day I graduated high school, I slept in my bra. 


OK, I'm off to England for the weekend. I'll still write a blog each day, but expect the quality to be even worse than usual.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Love,
Margaret

Thursday, October 9, 2014

From the Archives, edition 1

I thought of an idea for a recurring blog post topic: 'From the Archives'. It will showcase old emails, hand-written letters, gchats, Facebook messages and anything else I can dig up from the past.

Today's edition will feature my first ever gchat! It's with my sister Anna and it took place around five years ago. 

9th February 2009

9:44 PM me: hey neigh
9:45 PM Anna: hey
  i was getting some hot water for my tea
  whats up
9:46 PM me: not much
  crazy bout chris brown!
 Anna: I know
  poor riri
 me: remember him in "This Christmas"
  he was so wholesome!!
 Anna: i know
  what was his name?
  little man?
 me: baby
 Anna: haha
  baby
  
 me: hey- are pomagranates gone?
9:47 PM Anna: yes- sad huh
  
 me: very sad
 Anna: SO sad
  i have moved on to mangos- but they are more expensive and not as good
  or good for you
9:48 PM me: bummer
 Anna: indeed
  how was the drive back?
 me: it wasnt too bad
9:49 PM Anna: are you getting excited for white fish?
 me: yeah- i must have a BM before then...and then I will be ready to go
  ahhhhhhhhhaha
  sad, but its true.
 Anna: the potion isn't helping?
 me: nope
 Anna: boo
 me: its all not working anymore
9:50 PM Anna: we had an inch of snow this morning
 me: egads
 Anna: too bad
  you needs a BM in a major way
  did you call susan
 me: yeah
9:51 PM but i didnt get a chance to talk to her really
  didnt tell her i was const
  cuz i was SO SICK
 Anna: corrie and meagan saw pics of you from the wedding, and they were going on and on about how beautiful you are
 me: when i called her
  oh lordy
  the wedding!?!
 Anna: frank's
 me: fattest evar
 Anna: they were like- she is BEAUTIFUL
 me: well, thats good
 Anna: yea
  take it
 me: taken
 Anna: its a TL
so give me something
9:52 PM me: ummmmmmmmmmmmm
  barbie thinks you have cool style
 Anna: poop
  i'll take it
  since i am sure she's sitting right there
9:53 PM me: she's in class!


Oh yes, I remember that p-granate kick we were on. They really are delicious.

Photo by GPO via Wikimedia Commons


Dictionary


  • Neigh = Anna's nickname
  • riri = Rihanna (aka Robyn Rihanna Fenty)
  • BM = Bowel movement (sorry, but it's true)
  • Whitefish = A town in Montana
  • The potion = Castor oil (rubbed onto the stomach in a clockwise motion)
  • TL = 'Trade Last', a thing my family does where, when you hear a compliment about someone, you tell the person that you have a 'TL' for them. In order to hear what it is, they have to tell you something nice they heard someone say about you first. 



Love,
Margaret

P.S. Andy just got another parking ticket. Let the appeals process commence!

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